Fantasy Round 39: Shadowrun Hong Kong
We’ve talked about Shadowrun Returns before, and I played (but did not comment upon) Shadowrun: Dragonfall.
Since Shadowrun: Hong Kong is now out, and delightful, I think it’s time to add another chapter. (I note that Michael and I backed this game on Kickstarter. It was worth it.)
There will be a few spoilers, but I’m not giving away the main plotline.
Ractor Is Amazing
As ever, the characters are excellent. The ghoul ronin discusses how he marinates raw metahuman flesh, and the decker agonizes about the memories she deleted years ago. A trio of Go players talk to you about their dreams, and your fixer is always up to something.
My favorite is Ractor, a rigger who joins your team. He starts out seeming more or less like an ordinary rigger — a scientist who left the corps after a couple of his colleagues stole his research. He wants it back. But you eventually discover that he’s quite philosophical, and has grand, transhumanistic ideas. Of course, there’s a devil mixed in with those details. Especially once he’s comfortable enough to take off his boots…
In the end, he’s a delightful mix of intellectual and terrifying. Perfect for Shadowrun.
A Few Story Glitches
This was one thing that made me sad.
One of the best aspects of the game is how it allows your actions to have an impact on the flow of the story in smaller ways. Friendly actions in one level, giving away something of value at the time, gains you useful assistance in a later run. Killing some of Kindly Cheng’s minions while you’re on the job for her irritates her.
But, there were a couple of points where the game engine failed to propagate some actions forward.
There’s one mission where I captured a target while he was visiting the mistress. I didn’t kill his mistress! I used one character’s special ability to “subdue” her instead, leaving her tied up on the floor. Nonetheless, the target of the run still complained about how my willingness to kill her clearly showed how little I valued life.
I was sad about that.
The other weird thing was that subdued enemies lie on the ground where you leave them, while dead ones evaporate the way they do in many RPGs. The contrast was… odd.
The ambiance was lovely in general.
I’ve already mentioned the Go players, but it extends to the constant rain, the rare moment when the weather is clear, and the nastiness of a typhoon. It’s your fixer dealing with your crew from a Mahjong parlor, and your home base in a rickety old ship named Boathole. It’s working to remember your Cantonese when you first arrive in Hong Kong, and people writing haiku on message boards. It’s the notorious (and rebuilt) Kowloon Walled City, and a corporation that builds its headquarters with feng shui and lovely gardens to channel good fortune.
All told, it feels like a future dystopian Hong Kong. It’s fun to see a game set outside of the US and Europe, and it this case, it is well done.